Tartu - The Spirit of Estonia

Trip Start Jul 26, 2007
Trip End May 10, 2008

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Thursday, August 2, 2007

After Tallin's pretty streets we are off to the train station to get our first taste of Eastern European rail travel.  Tallin Station is new and nicer than Leeds station it has to be said.  The fact that it was lacking a M&S Simply Food - they went for the "ErotikPood" option instead, a sort of Ana Summerski type affair - mattered not as they had a nice caff upstairs.  Now, trains in England have their faults don't get me wrong, but the train to Tartu had vinyl seats of the leg-rippingly  brown variety last seen on my parents Vauxhall Viva circa 1973.  Add to this the soaring temperatures, body odour (not ours yet!) and the jammed windows and you have an uncomfortable 4 hour journey on your hands (or bums as it were).

Regular readers (mum? Rosa?) will know that Tartu is Estonia's "spiritual capital" so we were expecting something a bit different from Tallinn.  First impressions were clouded somewhat by the fact that some git had put the hotel a mile away from the Station so it was more Rucksack lugging for us until we found it discretely hidden down a road straight out of Shameless-meets-the-wild-west.  The hotel was pleasant and cheap but non-descript so ignoring the fact that it wasn't quite in Tartu it wasn't at all bad.

Tartu is more down to earth than Tallin (less museum-like) with a more open and younger feel to it.  It is the home to Estonia's most famous university and has a large student population.  There is a small "old-town" which (in common with most "old" towns in Eastern Europe) is being heavily renovated.  When we arrived there was an Opera being performed in the town square (nothing to do with us) so rather than soak up the culture we hopped it to an Italian restaurant round the corner.  My pizza was delivered quickly with the explanation that Virg's Spag Carbonara took longer to cook.  How much longer?  Exactly the same amount of time it takes me to eat a pizza apparently.  I reckon this is just bad service rather than an example of the "Spirit of Estonia".

Next day Virg's "man-flu" kicked in (that damned Tallin rain eh?) so we took it easy, didn't do much (sorry) and had a stroll around the Toomemagi Hill and the old town square (see pics) before heading to the ubiquitous Rimi supermarket and buying the first of many Baltic picnics (carrot pasties, cabbage pasties etc all very nice indeed.)

See you next time from Latvia.

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